We had the (near) perfect plan for kid-sitting so we could attend my company’s holiday party on Friday: we were going to swap turns with another family whose company party was Saturday night. My youngest daughter was acting sluggish Thursday night, a sure sign of imminent malaise. The other family was okay with exposing their kids to the seasonal level of sniffle cooties. Unfortunately, by mid-afternoon, Helen was running a fever. This put the kabosh on our half of the sitting plans. My spouse, suspecting it was an ear infection, set up a 5pm appointment with the pediatrician. Usually it’s a quick peek with the otoscope and they’ll dispense a prescription for the pink, refrigerated oral antibiotic.
The office cleared out earlier than usual in anticipation of the festivities. (Very few people work late, which I truly appreciate.) I was out the door by 4:45 pm, an hour earlier than normal, but it’s so dark this time of year, it feels like it should be 9:30 pm. About the halfway up the first hill on the way home, a motorcyclist pulled out of an office driveway, did a 720° turn in the middle of the road and fell down. I was about fifty feet behind him, still going up the hill. I moved over into the left part of the lane, waving the car behind me to slow down. He did, and I plopped my bike on the sidewalk, aimed the bike light at the fallen motorcyclist and went to help him extract himself from under the bike.
The driver behind me had pulled over to redirect traffic towards the center lane. The motorcyclist, in his late 20s, was still sitting in the middle of the road next to his bike. Several other people, each with a cell phone whipped out, offered help. Two nudged the motorcyclist over to the curb, one called 911, and the rest of us rolled the motorcycle to the side of the road, once we figured out how to engage the clutch. (Ted, you’re going to have to teach me the basics of motorcycle controls sometime.) He was asking questions, but his lack of comprehension of the responses or questions back suggested he had concussion. There was little I could do once the ambulance rolled up. As I rode off, I was struck by how patient and helpful people were being, especially during Friday rush hour.
No one was home when I rolled into the driveway at 6:30 pm. My wife had tried calling my cell phone –not that I would have heard the phone ring over the highway noise,. The only words I could make out from the garbled voice mail were “104.5°F” and “X-rays.” (X-rays?) H has pneumonia. When I called, they were waiting for the prescription and picking out popsicles. Clearly, I was the only one still worried. After I showered, I googled for more information on pneumonia, as I’ve associated it only with people whose immune systems were compromised in some manner. To my surprise, there are at least eighty varieties. Selection of the appropriate antibiotic is an exercise in probability theory, but thankfully, she only has the more common variety. It’s also less contagious than I would have guessed, e.g. less than the rhinovirus.
On Saturday, I dropped some cookies off at Claire’s birthday bash, then played countless games fo “Go Fish!” with H the rest of the night while my wife fulfilled our half of the sitting obligation. Although H still has the deep cough and pink cheeks, she’s starting to feel better.